Category Archives: Events

Upcoming meetings and events

The Ice Pond

Consciousness is an ice pond:
Though it is all water,
It needs the energy of the sun to melt.
When ordinary people are awakened,
They are Buddhas;
But they rely on the power of
Dharma for cultivation.
When ice melts,
Then water flows and moistens;
Only then can it perform its
Irrigating function.
When delusion is ended,
Then the mind is open and penetrating,
Responsively manifesting the function
Of the light of spiritual powers.

~ Guifeng Zongmi (780-841)

Bhante Rahula to visit Huntington/Charleston in August 2020

We will have more details as we lock them down, but American Buddhist monk Bhante Yogavacara Rahula will make a return visit to the Meditation Circles in Huntington and Charleston, W.Va., in early August, 2020. Bhante Rahula will lead a day-long ‘Day of Mindfulness’ at the Peacetree Center for Wellness in Huntington, WV, on Saturday, Aug. 8. He will also attend the Tuesday, Aug. 11, weekly sitting of The Meditation Circle, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 520 Kanawha Bld. W, in Charleston, WV. There is no charge for either event (donations will be accepted). Advance registration will be required for the Peacetree event because of limited space. REGISTRATION IS NOT YET OPEN FOR THE PEACETREE EVENT. We encourage you to subscribe to this site for updates on these and other events, as well as regular quotes and readings on breath-centered meditation and mindfulness in the Buddhist tradition.

Bhante Rahula is director and principal teacher at the Paññāsīha Lion of Wisdom Meditation Center in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He was born Scott Joseph DuPrez in Southern California in 1948. After following the hippie trail to India, he eventually discovered Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, where he ordained as a novice monk in 1975 at Gothama Thapovanaya, Kalupaluwawa.

He received his bhikkhu upasampada ordination at Wat Thai Los Angeles in May 1979. After returning to Sri Lanka for some years, he came to help Bhante Henepola Gunaratana establish the Bhavana Society Forest Monastery, where he served as vice-abbot from 1986 to 2010. Now, after seven years of teaching Dhamma and leading retreats around the world, he has taken on the role as director and chief meditation teacher at Lion of Wisdom .

The rural meditation retreat facility is a branch of the Washington Buddhist Vihara. The center offers Days of Mindfulness, Afternoon Intensives and two- and three-day retreats.

Upcoming 2020 events at Lion of Wisdom include:

  • Saturday February 22, Afternoon Intensive, 1-4 pm
  • Sunday March 1, Day of Mindfulness, 9 am-4 pm; bring a bag lunch or potluck item to share.
  • Sunday, March 8, Afternoon Intensive, 1.30-4.30 pm
  • Saturday, March 14, Day of Mindfulness; 9 am-4.30 pm; bring a potluck item to share.
  • Weekend Retreat, Friday, March 20, 7 pm until Sunday, March 22, finish at noon. Register for overnight accommodation.
  • Weeklong Retreat, May 15-23, 2020. The retreat theme will be: Awakening body/mind awareness with vipassana meditation and yoga breathing/exercises. Registration is required; a few spaces are still available; camping in your own tent is possible.

 To register for the above overnight retreats send an e-mail to: and include the following: Name, age, address, gender, beginner to meditation? Any medical conditions that might limit you movements/participation, prescribed medications?

A Q-and-A with Bhante Rahula


Bhante Yogavacara Rahula, former vice abbot of the Bhavana Society Buddhist Forest Monastery and retreat center in High View, has an intriguing back story, told in his book, “One Night’s Shelter: Autobiography of an American Monk.”

Born Joseph Scott DuPrez in California, he served in Vietnam, then took off across the hippie trail in Europe and India, was jailed for smuggling hashish in Afghanistan and then — after attending a meditation retreat in Nepal — abandoned the stoner life and became a globe-trotting monk.

Rahula, 68, will visit Charleston and Huntington Thursday through Saturday, making several public appearances. I interviewed him via email in advance of his visit

+ + +
Q: What was your early life growing up?
RAHULA: I was born and grew up in Southern California. I had a typical middle-class upbringing — went to activities with the local Methodist Church youth group, wasn’t particularly religious-minded.

We lived in Riverside, about 50 miles away from the coast. My brother and I started surfing in 1962 when the Beach Boys songs were getting popular. We never did get particularly good at surfing.

+ + +
Q: How did you wind up in Vietnam?
RAHULA: I graduated from high school in 1966 and enlisted in the Army in 1967. I did not really have any pros or cons about the war, but all my friends were either getting drafted or enlisting.

I thought, what the heck. I would have eventually gotten drafted anyway. Continue reading A Q-and-A with Bhante Rahula

Note on change in meditation schedule


two blooming white water lilies (lotus) close up
two blooming white water lilies (lotus) close up

This Monday Sept. 26 , the gathering of the Meditation Circle will feature an annual visit from students in the world religions class at Charleston Catholic High School. As a result, much of the gathering will be devoted to a Q-and-A about meditation and basic instruction in sitting meditation.

Also, the Meditation Circle will temporarily be suspending the Qigong instruction due to some scheduling issues caused by the move to the new Monday meeting format, which is in the process of being tweaked.

We will continue to meet from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Except for this Monday’s visit from the students, we will us the 5:30 to 6 p.m. time for basic instruction in sitting, standing and walking meditation, discussion about maintaining a regular practice and a weekly reading from the Dhammapada, a collection of core Buddhist teachings.

As ever, your feedback is most welcome.

+ + +
Please also note the upcoming visit by Bhante Yogavacara Rahula, who will be in Charleston and Huntington form Thursday, Oct. 13 through Saturday, Oct. 15. He will make two Charleston appearances: from 7 to 8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 14 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation building where the Meditation Circle meets, and from 5 to

Below is the full schedule of his visit. For more, see our previous post about Bhante Rahula:

DOWNLOAD: Read or download  pdf’s of Bhante Rahula’s books here.
BLOG: Visit Bhante Rahula’s blog here.
THURSDAY, Oct. 13:  6 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: PeaceTree Center, 5930 Mahood Dr., Barboursville, W.Va., (located about ten minutes from the Huntington Mall).
WHAT: Bhante Rahula will speak on “An Introduction to Meditation,” followed by meditation and Q-and-A.
FRIDAY, Oct. 14:  7 to 8 p.m.
WHERE: Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 520 Kanawha Blvd W, Charleston, W.Va.
WHAT: Meditation, Talk and Q-and-A.
3/ SATURDAY, Oct. 15:

11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.:
WHERE: PeaceTree Center, 5930 Mahood Dr, Barboursville, W.Va., (located about ten minutes from the Huntington Mall).
WHAT: Yoga session followed by meditation and then Q-and-A.

5 to 7 p.m.:
WHERE: Unity of Kanawha Valley, 804 Myrtle Rd., Charleston, W.Va.
WHAT: Yoga session followed by talk on “Mindfulness in Daily Life”,  short meditation and Q-and-A.

The Meditation Circle is moving: From Tuesday to Monday nights


We’re moving! Starting, Monday, Sept. 12, the Meditation Circle of Charleston (WV) will be moving from its long-time Tuesday evening session to a weekly Monday evening session. We are staying in the exact same place, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation on the West Side of Charleston, W.Va. But we are slightly expanding our gathering time, in order to include more instruction in Qigong, the ancient Chinese moving meditation practice,  as well as time to talk about your sitting practice and instruction for beginners to meditation. (We’d also like to now and then share tea and discussion, too, and get to know one another better).

HERE IS OUR NEW SCHEDULE: Please note that the new 5:30 to 6 p.m. additional time is optional. If all you wish is to sit quietly, as we have been doing, then please arrive for the 6 to 7 p.m. time frame. And as ever, if you are physically leery of undertaking Qigong or walking or standing meditation, we invite you to sit and enjoy the peacefulness afforded us by the Unitarian’s use of their lovely space.

5:30 – 6 p.m., every Monday:

This period is designed to be flexible. It is primarily used for Qigong practice and instruction, although if the need arises it can be used as either a question-and-answer period to address issues that arise from practice or for instruction in basic meditation techniques for newcomers.

6 to 7 p.m.:

This time is set aside for meditation. The format consists of two rounds of meditation, each lasting 20 to 25 minutes, with a short 5 to 10 minute period of standing or walking meditation between rounds. The sitting period ends with a Metta or loving-friendliness meditation.

We welcome your feedback on the changes and look forward to everyone getting to know one another better as we create the space for a supportive group of folks interested in deepening their meditation practice.

Thad and Doug

P.S.: Please also note details about the upcoming visit to Charleston and Huntington of the globe-trotting, American-born Buddhist monk Bhante Rahula from Thursday, Oct. 13 through Saturday, Oct. 15. He has a fascinating personal history and is a wonderful meditation and yoga instructor who has taught worldwide for decades. See more details here.

Meditation Circle at PeaceTree Center on Sat., Dec. 5


The Meditation Circle of Charleston will be on the road for a  group meditation session from 10 a.m. to noon this Saturday (Dec. 5) at the wonderful PeaceTree Center, about a five-minute drive from the Huntington Mall, off Interstate 64 at 5930 Mahood Dr., Huntington.  Beginners are encouraged and there will be guided meditation practice and a chance to talk about meditation. Chairs and a few cushions are available. Free. This is the start of a monthly meditation gathering at PeaceTree, to take place the first Saturday of every month, so mark your calendars.


Online course on the Middle Length Discourses


If you wish to deepen your understanding of the Buddha’s actual teachings, pay heed. Starting Jan. 19, the Sati Center for Buddhist Studies will offer a free online course on the Majjhima Nikāya, the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha. Registration deadline is Jan. 12 through the center’s website here. You can also take the courses as a graduate-level class for academic credit for $300. The weekly course runs through April. Here is more about it from the Sati website:

The Middle Length Discourses (Majjhima Nikāya) might be the most important collection of the Buddha’s teachings. They contain many of the central teachings, practices, and stories from the earliest period of Buddhism in India. A careful study of this collection is an indispensable foundation for the study and practice of Buddhism.

The course consists of weekly readings of suttas from the Middle Length Discourses plus study guides written by Gil Fronsdal.  These study guides function as the “lectures” for the class, helping to bring the richness of this early literature alive.  Participants will have access to a Google Drive where the study guides will be located and may participate in video study-discussions and teacher Q&A audio/video sessions.

The course is organized around ten themes found in Middle Length Discourses:

  1. Faith and The Path
  2. The Buddha
  3. Karma
  4. Effort and Training
  5. Happiness, Sensuality, and Renunciation
  6. Mindfulness
  7. Concentration
  8. Wisdom
  9. Attainments
  10. Nirvana

Spencer Retreat on April 19

The Spencer Meditation Group is having a Day Long Interfaith Meditation Retreat.  The retreat will be April 19, from 9 AM until 5 PM at the Spencer Presbyterian Church in Spencer, W.Va.  Instruction will be offered in the vipassana (Buddhist) and contemplative prayer (Christian) traditions.  The day will mostly consist of alternating sessions of sitting and walking meditation, (and optional chanting!) with plenty of time for discussion and questions and answers.

We are asking people to please bring a bag lunch, and your own meditation cushions if you have them.  We will provide chairs, but we do not have extra cushions.  The retreat will be held in silence.   More information will be provided later for those who plan to attend. For more information, call Ken Lewis at 304-927-1505.

Marking Vesak

Vesak is being celebrated today at the Bhavana Society Buddhist Monastery and retreat center in Hampshire County, West Virginia. The exact date of Vesak Day varies according to the various lunar calendars used in different countries and traditions. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on the full moon Uposatha day (typically the 5th or 6th lunar month), as this website explains: “Commonly called ‘Buddha’s Birthday’, Vesak is actually the celebration of the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha and, unlike the birth and death of Christ, is celebrated as one occasion.

Below are some images sent out as Vesak greetings from Bhante Seelananda, a monk at the Bhavana Society. Click the images large. They’re pretty cool.

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 2.30.53 PM Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 2.31.01 PM

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Area Retreats: Lama Kathy at Saranam near Elkins, W.Va.


Lama Kathy Wesley (Gyurme Chötsö)

WHO: Lama Kathy Wesley (Gyurme Chötsö)
WHAT: “Guidebook to Compassion: The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva”
WHEN: Nov. 3-4, 2012
WHERE: Saranam, a secluded retreat house on a hilltop just north of Elkins, W.Va.

DETAILS: The Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva is a classic treasury of Mahayana advice by the Tibetan Buddhist master Ngulchu Thogme. In these 37 four-line verses, Thogme describes how a bodhisattva — a being in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition committed to attaining enlightenment for the benefit of suffering beings — would train in the path of sacred selflessness. His text begins with the bodhisattva’s lofty aspiration to benefit others, then works through the Six Perfections (generosity, ethics, patience, diligence, meditation and wisdom), which are the actions that bring about a bodhisattva’s enlightenment. Along the way, Thogme describes how a bodhisattva would respond to disappointment, loss, theft, personal injury, insult, and other painful problems of the human condition. The advice challenges our deeply-held self-centered beliefs and shows us the new possibilities opened by a life lived in the condition of love. Continue reading Area Retreats: Lama Kathy at Saranam near Elkins, W.Va.

ARCHIVES: The Dalai Lama from the bleachers

A friend and I who attended Miami University together in the late ’70s had hoped to see H.H. the Dalai Lama upon his visit to our alma mater later this month in Oxford, Ohio. Alas, tickets went fast and furiously and mostly to Miami students. I consoled myself with having had the blessing of seeing the Dalai Lama speak on two prior occasions, once in a dialogue in Belfast with a Christian monk and once in 1998. From the archives, I offer this depiction of a day-long Lojong training and talk given by His Holiness at American University in D.C., in November 1998. The article was originally written for Hundred Mountain, a Buddhist online journal I used to publish on the Web.

WASHINGTON, D.C. | November, 1998
by douglas imbrogno

DOWN ON THE CORNER OF 12th AND K STREETS, it sounds like a riot. I push open the rubbery Days Inn curtains and look down six floors to the corner of 12th and K streets. It is 3 a.m. The nation’s capital–or at least this neck of the woods–has not gone gently into the night. Honking cars cram the intersection on this cool November Friday night. A knot of young black guys laughs, shouting at the top of their lungs and then one starts swinging. He is tackled to the ground, scrambles up and flees into the darkness. Women in short skirts sidle up to car windows, lean in.

Can’t hotel staff put the kabosh on this after hours street theater? Don’t people know His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in town? Where are the cops? Those of us who drove hundreds of miles to drink up the fellow who has become a sort of alternative pope for some Westerners need our rest. We have a full day ahead. Six hours of instruction in Lojong mind training. Shut up, world! (Is that an un-Buddhist sentiment?) The revelry continues past 4 a.m., when it finally dries up and blows out. The streets empty. Tendrils of a rosy dawn soon creep into the capital sky.

H.H. the Dalai Lama was the hot ticket in town, and in fact, all along the Eastern Seaboard. It was an odd thing. The Dalai Lama had for years barnstormed across America. Yet this past fall, his appearances in Washington, in Pittsburgh and elsewhere merited widespread mention and coverage in the popular media. Slow news week? Or was the Tibetan spiritual leader still just way cool?

It was no small potatoes to be
in the same room with him. Just to sit in the bleachers in the cheapest seats in the gym at American University—the site of the Lojong training—cost $35. For $85, you got a fold-down seat. And $115 got you down on the gym floor within eye-ball-to-eyeball distance of him. That would be an auspicious thing, I was told. Just to hear him, just to be in the same room with such a highly realized teacher, earned merit for you in the karmic sense of things, said the contractor who had invited me to come with him for the event. A gymnasium, would count, too.

I’d never seen His Holiness in person. My contractor friend, Ken Lewis, had seen him numerous times. He never missed the chance for a Dalai Lama road trip when His Holiness was anywhere within striking distance of Ken’s home in Spencer, West Virginia. This time, he’d lined up his wife and son, as well as a Spencer schoolteacher friend, plus myself, a longtime student of Therevadan Buddhism.

We popped for the $85 fold-downs. The schoolteacher took it to the bank so he could sit down on the gym floor. Income from the talk was to be used to support a multi-year project including an event the summer of the year 2,000 on the National Mall in the capital, something called “Tibetan Culture Beyond the Land of Snows.” Ken won over an niggling doubts about the propriety of spending so much money for what amounted to a five-hour lecture: “If I trust anyone with how my money would be spent, it’d be the Dalai Lama.” Continue reading ARCHIVES: The Dalai Lama from the bleachers

Dalai Lama at Miami U. in Oxford, Ohio Oct. 20-22

A friend passes along some significant news for those of you within striking distance of Miami University (my old alma mater) about an hour northwest of Cincinnati in Oxford, Ohio ~ Douglas

The Dalai Lama will be visiting Miami University in Oxford, Ohio from Oct. 20-22, 2010 to meet with students and give a public address. There are details on the visit here. but it looks like more specific details will not be announced until Fall. In January 2009, Miami and the College of Higher Tibetan Studies signed an affiliation agreement, launching the Tibetan studies semester program for Miami students in the Dharamsala region of northern India. The program offers courses on Buddhist philosophy, Tibetan medicine and meditation, as well as an intensive sequence of language courses in Chinese, Tibetan and Hindi.

If you have never attended an event featuring the Dalai Lama, I highly recommend you stay atop the details of this one and whatever ticketing or admission process they set up. Miami is a lovely, classic campus in the middle of the cornfields and Oxford is quite the pleasant little town. Here are two articles I wrote of encounters I had along with dear friends at events featuring the Dalai Lama, that will give you a sense of the flavor of an event with him, (depending on the venue and crush of people there, of course). Your Dalai Lama experiences may vary:

~ The Dalai Lama in Belfast
~ Bleacher Buddhism with the Dalai Lama

Tibetan Healing Retreat

Here is news of an interesting healing retreat at the wonderful Saranam retreat center near Elkins, W.Va. Dr. Yonten is a very interesting fellow, who practices the ancient Tibetan healing arts at a very subtle and deep level. This below comes from an e-mal I received about this event. Here is a story I did on Dr. Yonten in the Charleston Gazette in May 2008 on a previous visit here by him and his young West Virginia-born assistant. | Douglas
Saranam retreat center just north of Elkins, W.Va.,
will welcome Dr. Jampa Yonten and assistant Kyle Weaner who will lead a weekend healing and teaching retreat, April 16-18, 2010.  The retreat will begin with supper and Introduction Friday evening; Saturday morning we will begin practice early; the retreat will end after lunch on Sunday. This year the Tibetan Healing Retreat will focus on Care for the Very Sick and Dying.  We are very pleased that Amchila (honored doctor) is returning to Saranam for a fourth year.  The previous retreats have deeply touched many people.

For those not yet familiar with Saranam, it is a comfortable facility located in a beautiful private setting in Montrose W.Va.  We will meet in the meditation hall, sleep in dorm-style accommodations, and share simple healthy meals.  Cost for the weekend retreat is $200. PLEASE RESPOND TO:  Barbara Weaner ( or Kyle Weaner ( Click on ‘More’ to read Dr. Yonten’s outline of the goals and objectives for the weekend and more on what he does. Continue reading Tibetan Healing Retreat